Commonly Asked Questions for Union Online Students
Listed here are helpful answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the Free College benefit for the Bachelor’s Degree Completion program and our current online program offerings. For more information or additional support, call us at 888-897-9671
Please be aware we are responding as fast as we can. Please give us 48 hours to respond to your inquiry.
These are the steps you need to complete in order to enroll with no cost and have the opportunity to complete your degree.
- Complete the inquiry form.
- Complete the application to the college. If you have problems with submission, please try using the Chrome browser.
- Complete FAFSA
School Code: 003026
- Submit transcripts showing you have completed an Associate Degree or 60 or more credits in the program you are choosing (Education, Business Administration or Criminal Justice)
Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you do not have an Associate Degree or 60 or more credits, you won’t be able to enroll in the Bachelor Degree completion program, but you WILL be able to enroll in the programs offered through Eastern Gateway Community. College with no cost. Visit the Free College site for additional information on the Associate Degree programs.
Q: What is the Free College Benefit in partnership with CSU?
A: The Free College Benefit is an investment in you and your future. With the Free College Benefit, union members and their families do not have to pay out of pocket for any tuition, fees or e-books for Bachelor’s Degree Completion programs at CSU—resulting in cost savings of thousands of dollars!
Q: How does it work?
A: The benefit is a “last-dollar scholarship”, or grant, that fills the gap between any federal, state or employer education grants you receive and the cost of tuition, fees and e-books for online Bachelor’s Degree Completion programs in Education, Business Administration, and Criminal Justice.
Q: Who is eligible?
A: The Free College Benefit is open to union members in good standing, who are full dues-paying members or retiree members, and their families. Families are children (or stepchildren), grandchildren (or step-grandchildren), spouses, domestic partners, financial dependents, siblings and parents; including in-laws. Additional family members may qualify. Check with your union to confirm.
Q: Can I get a refund for the courses I’ve already taken at CSU?
A: No. The scholarship cannot be applied retroactively, and the college can’t refund for previous terms.
Q: Which academic programs are eligible for the scholarship?
A: The academic partner for this program is Central State University, a land-grant, public University founded in 1887 and located in Wilberforce, OH (near Dayton).
CSU currently offers Bachelor’s Degree Completion programs Teacher Education, Business Management and Criminal Justice.
Additional programs are under consideration, so check back for updates.
Q: How do Bachelor Completion programs at CSU work?
A: The academic programs are intended for students who already have an Associate Degree or 60 credits or more in the intended major. (CSU is currently offering degree completion programs in Business Management, Teacher Education and Criminal Justice.)
If you have an Associate Degree in your requested major from an accredited institution, you may be able to start with junior level courses in the requested curriculum at Central State University.
If you do not have an Associate Degree in your requested major from an accredited institution, you may need to complete general education requirements and/or pre-requisite requirements. You will have the option to do so through the Free College Program at Eastern Gateway Community College, which will be eligible for transfer to CSU.
An evaluation of your transcript(s) will determine the courses that are acceptable for transfer equivalencies.
Q: Is Central State University accredited?
A: Yes. CSU, located in Wilberforce, OH, is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges. The Higher Learning Commission is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. This federally recognized body provides assurance to students, parents and all stakeholders that CSU meets clear quality standards for educational and financial performance. http://www.ncahlc.org/
Additionally, CSU’s Education program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs recognizes CSU’s Business Management program.
For more details, visit CentralState.edu
Q: Is this for real?
A: It is for real and students have been taking advantage of Free College opportunities through their unions since Fall 2015. Over 25,000 students have enrolled in our Free College programs.
Eligibility requires that potential students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as well as apply for and use any employer or military tuition reimbursement or assistance for which they have eligibility. Once the FAFSA is completed, the college may request additional documentation, for a process called verification that is required by the US Department of Education. All students must comply with the document requests by CSU in order to complete the financial aid process to determine eligibility for federal aid.
The Free College benefit will cover the rest of the cost of tuition, fees, and e-books for CSU’s online degree completion programs. The scholarship cannot be applied retroactively.
Q: How do I qualify for the Free College program through CSU?
A: Students who meet the academic qualifications of CSU’s Bachelor’s Degree Completion programs must complete the following steps to enroll:
- Complete CSU’s online application.
- Submit all previous college transcripts for evaluation. If you have not been awarded an Associate Degree, you will be required to also submit proof of High School graduation or GED completion.
- Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and submit any required verification. Any grant award must be applied to the tuition, fees and e-book charges at CSU.
- Agree to use any employer tuition assistance.
Students who do not complete the FAFSA and any required verification will need to make payment arrangements with CSU.
Students who are currently in default on their Federal student loans may receive the scholarship, but must get permission from CSUs financial aid office.
Q: Why do I have to complete the FAFSA if it’s Free?
A: The Free College benefit means you can attend CSU with no out-of-pocket cost, with the aid of a “last-dollar scholarship”. The amount of the last-dollar scholarship is determined by your enrollment and by the amount of federal, state or employer grants for which you are eligible. This is determined and verified through the FAFSA process. You will not be asked to take out any loans.
This means it is free to you and there is no out-of-pocket cost for tuition, fees, or e-books. The last dollar scholarship means it covers the difference in what you have available for grants in state or federal aid, and the tuition, fees and e-books at CSU. It does not cover pencils, computers, computer access, internet, etc. It also does not cover parking or professional fees, etc.
Q: How do you determine the amount of the scholarship?
A: Students must have a valid ISIR on file with CSU that correlates with semester attending (i.e. 2019/20 for summer, 2020/21 for Fall). This is the form that is sent to the college as a result of completing the online FAFSA.
Students without a US Social Security number may still be eligible but must confirm with their Financial Aid advisor.
Students who are selected for File Review or Verification must complete the process prior to the end of 1st semester attended and 1st semester for subsequent academic years.
Students who have exhausted their lifetime limit on Pell will still be eligible for the scholarship.
Students who have already earned a Bachelor’s Degree are eligible for the scholarship.
Students who are in default on previous student loans will be eligible if the Student makes agreement with their lender for 6-9 months of payments to clear default (with 1st payment made); or
The Student consolidates defaulted loans to clear default.
Q: Tell me more about FAFSA Verification and File Reviews.
A: The U.S. Department of Education selects approximately 30% of all FAFSA applicants for a process called verification. Verification is how the Department of Education requires CSU to confirm the accuracy of the data reported (or not reported) on an individual student’s FAFSA. During the verification process, information reported on the FAFSA is checked for accuracy against documentation submitted by the student and/or their parents. An application may be selected for verification at any time throughout the award year. Compliance with this verification procedure is required to remain eligible for the scholarship.
Q: How do I maintain my Free College benefit?
A: Once you receive the Free College benefit to cover the cost of tuition, fees and e-books at CSU, you must comply with all academic, conduct, attendance and financial aid policies as required by the college, the state of Ohio and the U.S. Department of Education in order to continue to receive the benefit for each semester in which you enroll in classes toward your degree. You must also continue to be a full dues-paying member of your union (or an eligible family member). You are also required to complete the FAFSA, including any required verification, for every new academic year.
Continuous enrollment from term to term is required. Students who do not continuously enroll will not be required to pay any money back (assuming their FAFSA is complete); however, they will have to pay for future terms at CSU.
Q: What is “continuous enrollment”?
A: Continuous enrollment is required in order to access the scholarship. Continuous enrollment means that once a student begins studies, they must take a minimum of three credit hours (typically one course) in consecutive semesters until they complete their degree. In an academic year, consecutive are Summer, Fall, and Spring.
Students who do not continuously enroll will not be required to pay any money back (assuming their FAFSA is complete); however, they will have to pay for future terms at CSU.
Q: Do I have to pay any money back if I don’t complete my class or program?
A: As long as CSU has your current year FAFSA and any and all required verification forms, and you follow the rules of the college, you won’t incur a bill for your tuition, fees or e-books for any previous semester.
You don’t have to stay with the union or your job for any set time period – you just need to be a member in good standing or an eligible family member at the time you start your classes. You don’t have to pay back the scholarship if you move out of the union, or your job.
To keep the Free College benefit, continuous enrollment from term to term is required. Students who do not continuously enroll will not be required to pay any money back (assuming their FAFSA is complete); however, they will have to pay for future terms at CSU.
Q: What if I do not qualify for any federal financial aid?
A: Even if it is determined that due to income levels, the student is not eligible for federal or state financial aid, or not eligible for employer grants or tuition reimbursement benefits, a last dollar scholarship will be applied to any remaining balance for tuition and fees at CSU.
The cost of e-books is included, so students will have no costs other than internet access and equipment (computers, software, etc.).
Q: Do I have to apply any other scholarships or benefits for which I am eligible to my tuition, fees or e-books at CSU?
A: Yes. All grants much be applied to your tuition, fees and e-books at CSU.
Q: What if I graduated in a foreign country?
A: You will need to have your transcript evaluated and translated by an official education evaluation service. One example is the service World Education Services, www.WES.Org. Any related cost for the transcript is not covered by the scholarship.
If you have difficulties obtaining your transcript, please give us a call back to discuss your individual situation.
Q: What if I need to discontinue my studies?
A: A student may withdraw from a class prior to the withdrawal deadline each semester. Students are required to contact the financial aid office prior to the withdrawal deadline to see what impact it might have on their financial aid and/or scholarship.
Q: Am I able to take out loans?
A: Students can take out loans, but no more than $1,000 per semester.